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Twenty-Six Students Completed Program at South Orange Reform Synagogue
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J., May 14, 2021 — Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel (TSTI) in South Orange celebrated the graduation of 26 Hebrew High students on May 4. During the ceremony, the students each delivered a speech inspired by the essay, “Why I am a Jew” by French writer and poet Edmund Fleg. Their remarks highlighted why being Jewish is uniquely important to them at this point in their lives. TSTI offers various entry points for students to continue their Jewish journeys after religious school and bar/bat mitzvah, and for many students, the Reform synagogue becomes a second home to them during their teen years.
“We are proud that so many students chose to continue their involvement with our TSTI Teen Programs through 12th grade, through participation in our Hebrew High, youth group and/or our Madrichim (religious school teaching assistant) programs,” said Rabbi Alexandra Klein. “This is especially true, given the challenges of the last year, as they all logged on for weekly virtual programming—a clear demonstration of their ongoing commitment to learning and engagement with the TSTI community.”
The students, who come from South Orange, Maplewood, Millburn, Short Hills and Livingston, have developed strong bonds to each other and to TSTI over the years. The constraints of social distancing did not hamper their desire to study with clergy and each other during their final year of Hebrew High, during which they engaged with issues of social justice, a powerful communal commitment for TSTI members.
“This kind, thoughtful and engaged group of graduates embodies the very best of our TSTI community,” said Klein. “They’ve enjoyed learning from others, including those whose opinions or beliefs differ from theirs. They are all true ‘mensches’ and we look forward to their contributions as young adults to TSTI and the world at large.”
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